2019 Israel Trip – Day 4

Gideon’s Spring

Located at the bottom of Mount Gilboa is Ein Harod, or the “Spring of Harod.” This is the pool where Gideon chose his 300 warriors to battle the Midianites. The warriors were chosen based on how they drank water (Judges 7:1-8).

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Beit She’an

During a battle against King Saul at nearby Mount Gilboa in 1004 BC, the Philistines prevailed and Saul together with three of his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua, died in battle (1 Samuel 31; 1 Chronicles 10). 1 Samuel 31:10 states that “the victorious Philistines hung the body of King Saul on the walls of Beit She’an”.

During the 1st century the city of Beit She’an was occupied under the new name “Scythopolis.”  It was a large roman city complete with temples, markets, theatres, hippodrome, and bathouses.P1040040

This is the “tel” behind the roman ruins of Beit She’an.  Buried under layers of earth is the original Israelite and Philistine city.P1040042

A model of the Roman ruins helps us to get our bearings before entering the ruins.P1040043 P1040047 P1040048

A Roman bathhouseP1040049

This is one example of how large stones could be transported with a minimum of human labor.P1040053

Inside the main section of the bathhouseP1040054 P1040057 P1040058

The “hot room” of the bathhouse.  A furnace (outside) would pump hot air into the space between the small pillars shown here.  On these pillars would be a floor that would heat up.  Water was scattered on the floor to make steam (a Roman version of the sauna).P1040061 P1040062 P1040064

A view of the “cardo” or main road from the bathhouseP1040068

Smaller pools in the bathhouseP1040069 P1040070 P1040072

The “cardo” or main road of the cityP1040073 P1040076 P1040078

Ruins of the market, facing the theatreP1040079

Ruins of a Roman templeP1040080 P1040081

These toppled columns (and their capitals) date from the earthquake that destroyed the city in the 700′s ADP1040082 P1040083 P1040084 P1040086 P1040087 P1040088

This is a Roman “latrine” or public toiletP1040090

Out guide, Benny, “demonstrates” how the wall toilets were used.P1040091

A view from inside the theatreP1040092 P1040094

Qasr el Yahud

One of two locations thought to be where John the Baptist baptized people (including Jesus).  This is more likely the historic site.

The buildings you see across the river are in the country of JordanP1040098 P1040100 P1040102 P1040104 P1040105

This is the beginning of the Judean wilderness.  It’s amazing how different it looks from Galilee in the north.P1040106


Qumran is the location where, in 1947, the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  It was inhabited in the first century by a Jewish sect known as the Essenes.

These are replicas of the clay jars the first scrolls were found in.P1040107

Cooking vessels used by the Essene communityP1040109

One of the primary tasks of members of the community was to work in the Scriptorum, producing copies of the scriptures and also teachings of their own High Priest.P1040110

The mountains at Qumran contain thousands of caves.  The Essenes didn’t inhabit these caves, but they did use them to hide their collection of scrolls when they were in danger from the Romans.P1040112 P1040113 P1040114 P1040115 P1040116 P1040117 P1040118

The Essene sect was obsessed with physical purity.  The bathed in a ritual bath (Mikvah) twice each day, before the morning and evening meal.  There are several Mikvahs at the site.P1040119 P1040121

A cistern (used for storing water)P1040122 P1040124

The Dead Sea

Located 1,412 feet BELOW sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on earth.  It is extremely salty (more than 10 times saltier than sea water).  People visit here to float in the waters and use the “black mud” as a skin treatment.  Cosmetics made from Dead Sea materials are very popular.P1040125 P1040127

There was a rare sighting of a breaching whale at the Dead Sea!  Seriously, if this water lets me float, it will hold up anyone!P1040141 P1040143

Of course no collection of photos from the Dead Sea would be complete with a picture of a camel.P1040147

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